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Weekly remarks: GOP sees a popular uprising, Obama says he always fights special interests

January 23, 2010 |  3:00 am

Democrat president Barack Obama relaxes in the Oval Office 2009

Weekly remarks by President Obama, as provided by the White House

One of the reasons I ran for president was because I believed so strongly that the voices of everyday Americans, hard-working folks doing everything they can to stay afloat, just weren’t being heard over the powerful voices of the special interests in Washington. And the result was a national agenda too often skewed in favor of those with the power to tilt the tables.

In my first year in office, we pushed back on that power by implementing historic reforms to get rid of the influence of those special interests. On my first day in office, we closed the revolving door between lobbying firms and the government so that no one in my administration would make decisions based on the interests of former or future employers. We barred gifts from federal lobbyists to executive branch officials. We imposed tough restrictions to prevent funds for our recovery from lining the pockets of the well-connected, instead of creating jobs for Americans. And for the first time in history, we have publicly disclosed the names of lobbyists and non-lobbyists alike who visit the White House every day, so that you know what’s going on in the White House – the people’s house.

We’ve been making steady progress. But this week, the United States Supreme Court handed a huge victory to the special interests and their lobbyists – and a powerful blow to our efforts to rein in....

...corporate influence. This ruling strikes at our democracy itself. By a 5-4 vote, the court overturned more than a century of law – including a bipartisan campaign finance law written by Sens. John McCain and Russ Feingold that had barred corporations from using their financial clout to directly interfere with elections by running advertisements for or against candidates in the crucial closing weeks.

This ruling opens the floodgates for an unlimited amount of special interest money into our democracy. It gives the special interest lobbyists new leverage to spend millions on advertising to persuade elected officials to vote their way – or to punish those who don’t. That means that any public servant who has the courage to....

....stand up to the special interests and stand up for the American people can find himself or herself under assault come election time.  Even foreign corporations may now get into the act.

I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest. The last thing we need to do is hand more influence to the lobbyists in Washington, or more power to the special interests to tip the outcome of elections.

All of us, regardless of party, should be worried that it will be that much harder to get fair, common-sense financial reforms, or close unwarranted tax loopholes that reward corporations from sheltering their income or shipping American jobs off-shore.  

It will make it more difficult to pass commonsense laws to promote energy independence because even foreign entities would be allowed to mix in our elections. It would give the health insurance industry even more leverage to fend off reforms that would protect patients. We don’t need to give any more voice to the powerful interests that already drown out the voices of everyday Americans.

And we don’t intend to. When this ruling came down, I instructed my administration to get to work immediately with members of Congress willing to fight for the American people to develop a forceful, bipartisan response to this decision. We have begun that work, and it will be a priority for us until we repair the damage that has been done.  

A hundred years ago, one of the great Republican presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, fought to limit special interest spending and influence over American political campaigns and warned of the impact of unbridled, corporate spending. His message rings as true as ever today, in this age of mass communications, when the decks are too often stacked against ordinary Americans. And as long as I’m your president, I’ll never stop fighting to make sure that the most powerful voice in Washington belongs to you.    ###

U S Capitol at Night

Weekly remarks by Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, as provided by his office

I’m House Republican Leader John Boehner. I’m speaking to you from the Capitol, where next week,  President Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address.

This is a fitting time to pause and take stock of where we are. 

Nearly a year ago, the president signed into law a trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ with promises that jobs would be created ‘immediately’ and that unemployment would stay below 8%. Since then, roughly 3 million Americans have lost their jobs while red ink and bailouts have piled up as far as the eye can see.

My home state of Ohio has endured nine straight months of double-digit unemployment. And for the better part of those nine months, Democrats in Washington have been focused on this government takeover of healthcare that working families just can’t afford and want nothing to do with.

House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio

This is what happens when government overreaches and stops listening to the people.

Washington Democrats believe government knows best how to spend your hard-earned money. Democrats believe we’re just one new tax, one more czar and one giant bureaucracy away from solving all of your problems. 

That’s not the America that I know growing up with 11 brothers and sisters as the son of a bar owner. And as I travel the country, I meet a lot of people who feel the same way.  

For months now, a political rebellion has been brewing – one born from the American people’s opposition to greater government control over our economy and their lives. That rebellion propelled Republican Scott Brown to victory in this week’s Massachusetts special election. 

Scott’s win in the bluest of blue states gives us new hope that common sense will prevail. That maybe now, the hard work and entrepreneurship of the American people will no longer be stifled by Washington Democrats’ costly, job-killing agenda, an agenda Republicans have stood on principle and fought tooth and nail against.

But we know better. We know that Washington Democrats will pull out all....

....the stops to try and shove through this government takeover of healthcare, with its Medicare cuts and tax hikes. If there’s a sweetheart deal that needs to be cut, Democrats will cut it. And if there’s a vote that needs to be bought, they’ll buy it. 

Haven’t we had enough of government propped up on payoffs and pork-barrel spending? Haven’t we had enough of the same-old, us-versus-them politics that uses yesterday’s battles to distract us from today’s problems?  We’re all in this together, and we need positive, forward-looking solutions to bring us together.

So for families asking, ‘Where are the jobs?’ Republicans have offered common-sense solutions to help small businesses invest and hire new workers. We’ve also put forward a responsible budget blueprint that makes the tough spending choices that others just talk about.

And on healthcare, Republicans have proposed the only bill that would lower premiums by up to 10%. And we do this by implementing some smart, common-sense reforms – whether it’s letting families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines or ending the junk lawsuits that contribute to higher healthcare costs.

And we get the job done without cutting Medicare or raising your taxes. 

These solutions aren’t being devised behind closed doors with special interests having the final say. We’re soliciting feedback on Facebook and Twitter. We’re working with governors and mayors every day to develop the best ideas. All of the details are available at solutions.gop.gov.

President Obama and Democrat leaders in Washington now have a choice: Work with Republicans to get our nation back on its feet, or double down on the job-killing policies that are making matters worse.

So at the State of the Union, we’ll listen to what the president has to say. But make no mistake: If the powers that be in Washington keep turning their backs on the people, Republicans will continue to challenge the status quo and offer better solutions.  

Our fight for reform, for freedom and for common sense, is far from over. Thanks for listening.    ####

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Photos: Pete Souza / White House; Associated Press (bottom two).

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